Let’s just get this out of the way right off the bat. In 2007, back when Myspace was king, I graduated from Marysville-Pilchuck High School (back then we had the hyphen, I’m still not sure why we decided to abandon that).
So I was given strict orders by Herald Prep Editor Aaron Swaney to be fair and unbiased while I was covering the inaugural Berry Bowl between MP (NOT M-P) and Marysville Getchell last night. To be honest with you, I thought it would be hard. I thought deep down I’d be keeping my fist pumps in check with every Tomahawk touchdown.
As I arrived on the scene it got even worse. I was back at Quil Ceda Stadium, where I spent many a night cheering on my Tomahawks. There’s a picture in my yearbook from my senior year of me and a couple friends in the front row of one football game looking onto the field.
Then I walked down to the field for some pregame pictures to Tweet out (because now it’s 2012). I ran into Scott Stokes, my old baseball coach, who is a coach for MP. Over on the MG side was John Natterstad Sr. and Rudy Grandbois, two physical education teachers I had way back in the day.
It was at that moment, I realized how great this was for Marysville. I also became a Marysville Getchell fan.
I’ve never been a Charger. I’ve been to MGHS a couple times in my life to play tennis, but that’s pretty much it. But, not only were many of those kids Tomahawks at one point in their life, they’re still from my city. They’re still playing hard to represent the 98270 (and 98271), and that’s more important than whatever colors are on their jerseys.
The whole thing has reminded me of my favorite television show, “Friday Night Lights” (which, along with “Friends” and “24” make up the three best TV shows ever). If you’ve never seen it, you absolutely should. In fact, as soon as you’re done reading this, Target should be your next stop.
In it, Kyle Chandler plays a legendary football coach in Texas. In the fourth season the football-crazed city is divided into two schools: Dillon and East Dillon. Fans have to pick a side, the now-evil Dillon Panthers or the East Dillon Lions, who come from a rougher part of town and are starting a football program from scratch.
The MP/MG rivalry isn’t quite like this. Students get to pick which school they want to attend based on their interests (each school is made up of smaller “learning communities”), and both coaches have said they won’t recruit eighth graders (which was commonplace on “Friday Night Lights”).
Still, I’m going to argue that this split is the best thing to happen to Marysville sports since Jarred Rome. It’s going to revitalize the Marysville football community. Getchell, in just its second year with its own program, is going to have some road bumps as it tries to build its program. Similarly, Pilchuck will stumble periodically and have off years.
They sure did several years ago while I was there.
This rivalry will still give the kids something to look forward to every year. Like MP head coach Brandon Carson said after the game last night, “for a rivalry game you just throw the records out.”
Numerous kids and coaches said there’s no bad blood between these two teams right now, mostly because a lot of them are friends and have played together. If “Friday Night Lights” is any indication, that will last about 1-2 years before fields are trashed (MP and MG play on the same field, so this seems unlikely) and star quarterbacks are kidnapped (watch your backs fellas!).
A big congratulations goes out to Marysville Pilchuck, who won the first-ever Berry Bowl 42-7. That’s great for the players, and is something they will always have. But Getchell will win one someday. There will be close games that come down to the wire, and upsets that have enormous postseason implications.
It’s okay to root for both teams. It’s okay to become a CharHawk (TomaGer?).
As long as the stands stay packed, the kids stay excited and the Berry Bowls keep coming, we’re all winning.
No matter what high school we graduated from.